Second competency evaluation ordered for man arrested in Elaine Fogle murder | News | The Press and Standard

by | July 28, 2016 5:00 am

Last Updated: July 27, 2016 at 2:28 pm

By GEORGE SALSBERRY
gsalsberry@lowcountry.com
Fourteenth Circuit Court Judge Perry Buckner has ordered the suspect in a 38-year-old murder case to undergo another evaluation to determine if he is competent to stand trial.
Buckner ordered a second evaluation after Dr. Matthew Gaskins, a forensic psychiatrist in Columbia assigned to assess James Willie Butterfield’s mental condition, informed the court in his lengthy written analysis that he was unable to offer a medical opinion on Butterfield’s ability to participate in his defense.
Dr. Gaskins wrote that he was unable to form a professional opinion because Butterfield had been uncooperative, refusing to answer questions.
It was also pointed out that Butterfield has not been cooperating with the mental facility’s staff in his treatment.  Dr. Gaskins also wrote that there was concern by some mental health professionals that Butterfield had “been feigning or exaggerating” some of his claimed mental deficiencies.
Butterfield, 60, of Walterboro was arrested on charges of murder, burglary and first-degree criminal sexual conduct by the Walterboro Police Department on Nov. 30 of last year.
The charges resulted from the re-examination of information and evidence in the May 28, 1978 rape and murder of Elaine Fogle at her Walterboro residence.
That re-examination of that evidence, led by Walterboro Police Department Det. Gean Johnson and involving a large number of current and former investigators, pointed to Butterfield as a person of interest in the cold case. The re-examination of the old evidence from the Fogle death allegedly identified Butterfield’s fingerprints and DNA at Fogle’s South Lemacks Street home.
At the time of his arrest, Butterfield was being held in the Crafts-Farrow mental health facility in Columbia.
He had been at the mental health facility since 2011, when a Blair (competency) hearing determined that he was not mentally competent to stand trial on a wide variety of criminal charges. Butterfield was sent to the mental health facility to allow doctors to treat him for his mental condition and the 11 criminal charges he had been facing were dismissed. None of those charges involved the Fogle homicide.
In mid-December of 2015, Butterfield was brought back to Walterboro from the Columbia facility for a bond hearing on the three charges from the Fogle case.
Visiting Judge R. Lawton McIntosh ordered Butterfield held without bond, a technicality because Butterfield was already incarcerated at Crafts-Farrow.
At that time, 14th Circuit Court Solicitor Duffie Stone requested that the judge order a Blair hearing, which would result in an evaluation of Butterfield’s current mental state to determine if he was competent to stand trial. McIntosh ordered a Blair hearing.
With Dr. Gaskins unable to offer an opinion on Butterfield’s ability to participate in his defense on the three charges, 14th Circuit Court Deputy Solicitor Sean Thornton asked Buckner to order another evaluation of Butterfield.
Matthew Walker, representing Butterfield, attempted to persuade Buckner that a second evaluation was unnecessary. He pointed out that the 2011 determination that Butterfield was not mentally competent to stand trial was still in effect.
Thornton countered that a defendant’s mental competency could change over time and the new criminal charges should require a new evaluation.
Although Walker sought unsuccessfully to derail a second evaluation by a forensic psychiatrist, prior to the hearing he and Thornton had agreed on who should be appointed to handle the second evaluation: Dr. Donna Schwartz-Watts of Columbia.
Buckner ordered the second evaluation to be handled by Dr. Schwartz-Watts.
Buckner said if Dr. Schwartz-Watts is found to have a conflict of interest or some other factor that keeps her from accepting the assignment, the two attorneys should seek to settle on another forensic psychiatrist or return to the court to have the judge rule on an appointment.
Buckner also told Thornton that he wanted Butterfield’s alleged lack of cooperation in both his treatment and in the first evaluation to be probed more deeply in the next evaluation.

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